Lake Lanier’s water level actually rose slightly this past week to 1,067.48, or 3.52 feet below full pool of 1071. Water surface temperatures are in the mid 50’s. Lake Lanier is clear to stained on the main lake and slightly stained in the rivers and creeks. The Chattahoochee River is stained below Buford Dam.
Check generation schedules before heading out to the river at 770-945-1466.
Bass fishing has been very good this past week. That being said, I know firsthand how frustrating it is to read a report or hear a friend talk about how the bass are ‘stacked up like cordwood,’ when we just got back from a 10-hour trip with only a few small fish to show for it.
Hopefully these reports shorten the learning curve and help you catch more fish since they are biting.
At last week’s Hammond’s tournament, it took a 21-pound, five-fish limit of spotted bass to win. The rest of the teams had to have a 16-plus pounds limit just to get a check.
The second-place team had a beautiful spotted bass that weighed over 6 pounds. There were many heathy spotted and largemouth, which demonstrates how blessed we are to have a world-class fishery on our home Lake Lanier.
One day last week, I didn’t launch my boat until 10 a.m.. Within the first half-hour, we boated a limit of fish that were around the shore’s rocky bluff wall that topped out at 15 feet, then dropped off quickly into 40 feet of water.
Rocky structures near deep water, or even rocky bottoms near ditches and creek channels, can be gold mines right now.
My setup for fishing rocky areas is a 6-foot Kissel Kraft Custom medium-light weight fishing rod with a drop-shot rigged with a regular small Aberdeen type No. 1 Gamakatsu hook.
Rig this worm Texas style with a Big Bites Shakin Squirrel worm.
I use light 12-pound test SX1 Sunline Braid with a 5-7 pound Sniper Fluorocarbon leader with a small SPRO Swivel tied to the mainline, with a Ú-ounce tungsten skinny weight at the other end.
This setup offers the ultimate combination of strength and sensitivity and the skinny weight prevents snags on the rocky bottom.
Those Gamakatsu light wire hooks usually allow fish to hook themselves without anglers having to set the hook like we do with a regular jig or worm rod.
While the drop shot should be a staple in any angler’s arsenal, other methods are also working. Use a Little John DD crank bait and fish it around rocky banks, points and humps.
Try to cast and retrieve your deep diving crank bait while maintaining as much bottom contact as much as possible, Jerking a Pointer or McStick in shad colors around points and deep banks both in the creeks and out on the main lake.
Windy banks with rocky structure will surrender some huge spotted bass along with an occasional striper in cold-weather months.
Jigs, shaky head worms and the old reliable Texas-rigged worms fished around docks, small ditches and the same rocky areas as mentioned above are great choices in winter.
Jigging spoons and Fish Head Spins are also deadly when fished on the bottom near the timber lines from 30-55 feet.
Your electronics will give away the best areas to fish. I rely heavily on my big screen Humminbird 998c and 1158c. It stays turned on and directly in front of me all the time I am on the water.
Stripers: Thanksgiving week holds some very special memories for me.
I credit live-bait fishing for stripers for teaching me how to fish Lake Lanier. The hundreds of days I logged on the water back in the 80s and 90’s taught me many lessons. When you fish with live bait, it forces you to slow down. Because of this, you will see many elements of the lake that anglers running 70 mph miss.
Striper fishing remains very good and they are biting all over the lake.
The water temperatures are remaining in the mid 50’s. The stripers can be found shallow in the mornings and on overcast days. The stripers may move out a little deeper on sunny days. They will still be found close to shallow flats near deeper ditches or creek channel are holding huge schools of threadfin shad.
There are also some of the larger gizzard shad in these same areas.
Whether you use a cast net or you go to your local tackle store, make sure you load the live well with lively bait.
Trout and jumbo shiners can stay healthy in a regular bass boat live well. Most center console boats have great bait tanks but even a cooler equipped with a small aerator can keep your bait in good condition for anglers that fish smaller aluminum Tracker or John Boats.
Just ask your local bait store for direction.
You really can’t go wrong fishing flat lines set out behind your boat. I used to feed about 15 feet of line out, then tie a balloon to the line and feed it way behind the boat. You can set three lines out using two regular flat lines and the one with the balloon trick way behind to avoid angles as you use your trolling mottos to maneuver your boat.
When you use a flat line, hook your trout, shiners or herring through the nose with a Gamakatsu Octopus or circle hook and secure your rods in a quality rod holder.
Even a 10-pound striper can pull so hard you almost can’t get the rod out of the holder. Use at least 12-pound test and don’t underestimate because these fish fight extremely hard.
It may sound like a broken record but trolling umbrella rigs continues to work very well in the areas where the stripers are eating.
If you have never trolled with an umbrella rig, it is highly recommended that you research or even hire a guide one day to teach you.
This will pay off in the long run. If you try to just buy a few rigs you may quickly discover that they have a very good way of snagging in timber. If you equip your umbrella rigs properly with 3-4 SPRO Buck Tails, then loosing these and the rig can be extremely costly.
All of that being said, trolling an umbrella rig can produce non-stop action. This technique is worth exploring.
Watch those gulls, loons and even those small king fishers. If you see a lot of these birds, then it is very likely you are in an area that is holding fish. Use your Humminbird electronics to confirm the presence of fish. Use a flat line or down line with a lively bait fished at the level where you mark fish.
Crappie: We are not hearing a lot of crappie fishing reports but some are being caught on jigging spoons in the deeper brush and ditches. That does not mean all the crappie are deep. You can still cast small jigs and downline small crappie minnows around docks with brush.
Trout fishing is excellent in the North Georgia Mountains and it has been a little better on the Chattahoochee River below
Buford Dam. Live earthworms or corn will work OK on light line and a quarter-ounce split shot.
Remember to check local regulations to make sure live bait is permitted in the streams or rivers you fish.
For fly anglers, wet flies have worked better in the mornings but you can match the hatch later in the day when you see insects swarming. Spin-fishing anglers can just about pick their poison and catch trout where they are biting.
Bank Fishing: There are many bank anglers setting out multiple lines for stripers. Many parks offer great bank fishing.
Use a very secure rod holder and cast large minnows out with a slip bobber set to 10 feet and secure your rods.
It helps if you have the wind at your back. Fishing with these methods will produce a variety of fish including, stripers, bass, catfish and even an occasional tasty walleye.
Eric Aldrich is an outdoor writer, marketing specialist and bass angler. Reports are based on personal experience and permission from a close network of friends. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website at aldrichfishing.com.